Education benefits for veterans date back to the beginning of the 20th century. Congress recognized that military service prevented young people from attending school so they passed the Rehabilitation Act of 1919. This Act gave veterans disabled in World War I a monthly assistance allowance. With the advent of World War II, the needs of the veterans were addressed by the passage of the 1940 Selective Training and Service Act entitling veterans to job reinstatement. It provided training and rehabilitation services to disabled veterans.
The 1944 Veterans Act gave veterans preference in federal civil service selection. One act, however, has had a greater impact on veterans' benefits than all of the preceding legislation combined. The 1944 Serviceman's Readjustment Act, the GI Bill of Rights provided unemployment benefits, education assistance, and low interest loans for homes, farms, and small businesses.
All veterans benefit legislation since 1944 has been based on the GI Bill. Since World War II, Congress has amended the GI Bill several times. The 1952 Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act focused on education and training. The 1956 Orphans Educational Assistance Act expanded eligibility to include education benefits for spouses and widows of service-connected disabled or deceased veterans.
The 1966 Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act provided education benefits, home and farm loans, employment counseling and placement services for Vietnam Veterans. The 1976 Post Vietnam Era Veterans Assistance Program was the first program requiring a payment contribution from military personnel while they were on active duty.
In 1984, Congress established the All Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program known as the Montgomery GI Bill Program. Participation in the program requires a monthly pay reduction for active duty personnel during the first 12 months of active duty; reservists receive reduced benefits for no pay reduction.
Originally a test program, the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 30) was made permanent in June of 1987. The purpose of the Chapter 30 Program was to provide an educational assistance program to aid in the readjustment of service members to civilian life following separation from military service. This program also provides an incentive for recruitment and retention of qualified personnel for the Armed Forces by emphasizing provisions for educational assistance benefits.
Chapter 30 thus established a pay reduction educational assistance program. For basic eligibility, an individual's paycheck is reduced by $100.00 a month for the first 12 months of military service. The amount is reverted to the Treasury and is non-refundable. Recruits can receive additional monthly benefits, known as "Kickers", from service branches. "Kickers" (See Navy College Fund) are funded by the individual service branches, and are offered to enhance recruitment in "hard-to-fill" or critical skill areas.